Capps, Tobler, NAPA AUTO PARTS win year's second title in sixth consecutive NHRA Full Throttle championship round


Most people only sing when they're inebriated.

That usually applies to Ron Capps too. When he sang the "NAPA Know How" song Sunday at Bristol Dragway he was drunk alright, but not on alcohol.

The veteran Funny Car driver for Don Schumacher Racing was "drunk" with joy and/or disbelief after advancing to an unheard of sixth straight NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series championship round and leaving with his second event title of the year.

"There was a lot of pressure coming in because of the media and fans kept asking ‘Are you going to get in a sixth final?'

"It's an unbelievable run."

Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, tuned by crew chief Rahn Tobler and assistant John Collins, eliminated rookie Courtney Force, two-time Funny Car world champion Tony Pedregon and Capps' DSR teammate Johnny Gray to reach the final round of the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.

The match-up with Gray was a replay of the championship round two weeks ago at Englishtown, N.J., in which Gray was victorious.

To win the 35th title of his career and third at Bristol, Capps, who will be 47 on Wednesday, beat rookie Alexis DeJoria, who was making her first final-round appearance.

The title ties him with legendary Don Garlits on the all-time wins list.

Capps continues to drink in all the knowledge he can from Tobler and the meshing of personalities clearly has been successful.

"Every race that we've gone to, it's just getting stronger and stronger; the bond that I have with Rahn Tobler and this team," Capps said.

"(Team owner) Don Schumacher does everything to give us everything that we need, and it's impressive that Rahn Tobler is able to do what he does with a car. He's such a perfectionist."

Since Tobler took over the NAPA AUTO PARTS team in mid-April, it has been a whirlwind. The team's heads-up record in elimination rounds is 23-7, and on June 1 Capps made the quickest run ever in Funny Car at 3.964 seconds during qualifying at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J.

And since Tobler took over, Capps has moved from eighth in the standings and 330 points behind leader Robert Hight, to second and trailing him by 73.

Ron Capps, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
EVENT WINNER: Ron Capps
Qualified: No. 4
First round: CAPPS (4.060 sec., 310.48 mph) def. Courtney Force (4.376, 213.87)
Second round: CAPPS (4.109, 306.53) def. Tony Pedregon (4.172, 306.12)
Semifinals: CAPPS (4.093, 305.63) def. Johnny Gray (4.107, 305.63)
Final: CAPPS (4.076, 312.35) def. Alexis DeJoria (5.232, 144.15)

QUALIFYING RUNS
FRIDAY
Session 1: 4.492 sec., 205.60 mph
Session 2: 4.091, 303.43
SATURDAY
Session 3: 4.152, 299.73
Session 4: 4.122, 306.40

NEXT EVENT
June 28-July 1, Route 66 NHRA Nationals, Joliet, Ill.

Race Facts

  1. Robert Hight (4), 892
  2. RON CAPPS (2), 819
  3. Mike Neff (1), 654
  4. JOHNNY GRAY (1), 633
  5. JACK BECKMAN (1), 621
  6. Bob Tasca III, 514
  7. Cruz Pedregon, 512
  8. John Force (1), 472
  9. Courtney Force, 462
  10. Jeff Arend, 441
  11. MATT HAGAN, 396